Al­pha­bet’s Waymo Sues Uber Over Self-Driv­ing Tech

Li­dar Tech­nol­ogy. What Is It?

The Economic Times - - Around The World -

Since satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems are only ac­cu­rate to within 16 feet and can be eas­ily flum­moxed by high-rise and glass-fronted build­ings, au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles re­quire an ar­ray of other sen­sors to po­si­tion them­selves pre­cisely and main­tain aware­ness of nearby pedes­tri­ans, ve­hi­cles and other ob­jects


in­di­vid­ual chan­nel cre­ates one con­tour line, and to­gether, those lines gen­er­ate a 3-D im­age of the sur­round­ing en­vi­ron­ment. San Fran­cisco: It took Al­pha­bet Inc’s Waymo seven years to de­sign and build a laser-scan­ning sys­tem to guide its self-driv­ing cars. Uber Tech­nolo­gies al­legedly did it in nine months.

Waymo claims in a law­suit filed on Thurs­day that was pos­si­ble be­cause a for­mer em­ployee stole the de­signs and tech­nol­ogy and started a new com­pany. Waymo ac­cuses sev­eral em­ploy­ees of Otto, a self-driv­ing startup Uber ac­quired in Au­gust for $ 680 mil­lion, of lift­ing tech­ni­cal information from Google’s au­ton­o­mous car project. The “cal­cu­lated theft” of Al­pha­bet’s tech­nol­ogy earned Otto’s em­ploy­ees more than $500 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint in San Fran­cisco fed­eral court. “We take the al­le­ga­tions made against Otto and Uber em­ploy­ees se­ri­ously and we will re­view this mat­ter care­fully,” Uber spokes­woman Chelsea Kohler said in

an email. The claims in Thurs­day’s case in­clude un­fair com­pe­ti­tion, patent in­fringe­ment and trade se­cret mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion. Waymo was in­ad­ver­tently copied on an email from one of its ven­dors, which had an at­tach­ment show­ing an Uber li­dar cir­cuit board that had a “strik­ing re­sem­blance” to Waymo’s de­sign, ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint. An­thony Le­vandowski, a for­mer man­ager at Waymo, i n De­cem­ber 2 015 down­loaded more than 14,0 0 0 pro­pri­etary and con­fi­den­tial files, in­clud­ing the li­dar cir­cuit board de­signs, ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint. He also al­legedly cre­ated a do­main name for his new com­pany and con­fided in some of his Waymo col­leagues of plans to “repli­cate” its tech­nol­ogy for a com­peti­tor.

“Mis­ap­pro­pri­at­ing this tech­nol­ogy is akin to stealing a se­cret recipe from a bev­er­age com­pany,” Waymo wrote in a blog post ex­plain­ing the suit.

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